Okay, it’s time to answer three questions:
- Who will the Jaguars pick?
- Who should the Jaguars pick?
- Who would the Jaguars like to pick, if things went perfectly for them?
Let’s get right to the answers.
1. Who will the Jaguars pick? Answer: If they stay at #8, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. If they trade back, Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins.
Let me start by saying that I think the Jaguars will trade back. Here’s how I expect the first seven picks to go:
1-Lions-Matthew Stafford-QB-Georgia. Let’s be honest, when you go 0-16, you need help everywhere. I’m not convinced that Stafford is going to be a Peyton Manning or a Troy Aikman (former #1 overall picks at QB), but maybe he can be a Carson Palmer, and that would be very good for the Lions.
2-Rams-Jason Smith-OT-Baylor. Smith’s name seems to be surfacing with the Rams quite a bit, even though some think that Eugene Monroe is a better all-around tackle. The St. Louis version of me (a radio reporter that covers the Rams on a regular basis) took Smith in the ESPN SportsCenter draft that we did, so I’m going to go along with the pick.
3-Chiefs-Eugene Monroe-OT-Virginia. The Chiefs are rebuilding under a new coach and a new general manager. I think they would like to trade back, get more picks and begin to re-stock the roster. They could certainly go with Aaron Curry here, but I think they would like to start to build the offense. Remember, new head coach Todd Haley was the Cardinal’s offensive coordinator.
4-Seahawks-Aaron Curry-LB-Wake Forest. I am very skeptical about all of the rumors regarding Seattle taking Mark Sanchez here. I just need more evidence when something like that surfaces so close to the draft. So I’m not buying it. Curry may be the top rated guy on the board for some teams, according to Jaguars Director of College scouting Terry McDoughough.
5-Browns-Brian Orakpo-DE Texas. This is where it gets very interesting. A couple of weeks ago, the Browns looked destined to draft Michael Crabtree, but then there were reports that they weren’t happy with his attitude when he came to visit them. Ordinarily, I would brush that off as typical pre-draft misinformation. But they’ve brought in a number of late first/early second round projected wide receivers for visits. That smells like more than just a smokescreen.
6-Bengals-Andre Smith-LT-Alabama. Unlike the Jaguars, who have made it very clear that they are making character a major factor in judging draft prospects, the Bengals are conducting business as usual. Smith is very talented, but he hasn’t exactly made the most mature decisions this off-season, especially at the combine, where he left before the event was over.
7-Raiders-Darrius Heyward-Bey-WR-Maryland. Because Al Davis figures to do something off the board and he’s always loved fast wide receivers.
So that would leave USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji. That would leave three highly sought after players for teams to trade up for. The three best candidates to trade back for a quarterback are the Broncos at 12, the Redskins at 13 and the Jets at 17.
2. Who Should the Jaguars Draft? Of course, this is all about who is available. The short answer is, whoever is the highest rated player available. That’s something that Gene Smith has said he will do. But let’s take the scenario above. Should the Jaguars draft a quarterback like Mark Sanchez? Only if they believe that he’s a franchise quarterback in the making (and I don’t know that they believe that). It puts a tremendous strain on the salary cap when you have two quarterbacks with big contracts. Crabtree was the best player I saw in college football last season so I would like to see the Jaguars pick him, but you can find good (but not often great) wide receivers later in the draft. I think Crabtree can be a Michael Irvin-type wide receiver. It’s tough to pass that up.
3. Who would the Jaguars like to pick, if things went perfectly for them? Ideally, they would like to see a left tackle fall to them. In a pie-in-the-sky world, Eugene Monroe would be there for the Jaguars at #8. I just can’t imagine that happening. Nor can I imagine Curry slipping. He appears to be the highest rated player in this draft.